Neo-Nazis arrested in Obama plot

Oct. 27, 2008 at 6:28 PM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 27 (UPI) -- Federal agents said Monday a neo-Nazi plot to kill U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has been foiled.

The U.S. attorney's office in Tennessee said in a statement that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms was holding two suspects who allegedly also planned to shoot and kill 88 people and to decapitate 14 blacks, ABC News reported.

The suspects were identified in a complaint in Jackson, Tenn., as Daniel Cowart and Paul Schlesselman. They were arrested Oct. 22 in Tennessee by the Crockett County Sheriff's Department on a tip from the Haywood County Sheriff's Department.

The U.S. attorney's office said the pair allegedly planned to rob a gun shop, commit the killings at an unnamed "predominantly African-American school" and then cap it all off by killing Obama.

Among the weapons found in the men's possession were sawed-off shotguns and an FASI .308 rifle.

ABC said the numbers 88 and 14 have significance in the Nazi movement -- 88 standing for Heil Hitler, a reference to World War II German Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, and 14 representing the number of words in "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children."

"The allegations set forth in this criminal complaint are serious and will be treated as such," said Lawrence J. Laurenzi, acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee.

Federal authorities allege that about one month ago, Cowart and Schlesselman met on the Internet through a mutual friend. Both allegedly claim to hold very strong beliefs about "White Power" and "Skinhead" philosophy, and discussed going on a "killing spree," officials said.

Prosecutors allege Cowart traveled from Tennessee to Arkansas Oct. 20 to pick up Schlesselman so they could carry out their plan. The complaint alleges the defendants said they would be willing to die during this attempt.

"The U.S. Secret Service takes all threats against presidential candidates seriously and is actively investigating the allegations," Richard Harlow, special agent in charge of the Secret Service-Memphis Field Office, said.

James Cavanaugh, special agent in charge of ATF, gave credit to the two county sheriff's departments, saying "it is critical that the alleged plot was interrupted."

Cowart and Schlesselman had their initial appearances in federal court Monday and are to be back in court for a detention hearing Thursday in Memphis.

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